Garden Design Tips Repetition In Yard Design

Garden Design Tips Repetition In Yard Design

Landscape Design and Gardening Newsletter

Welcome to another great issue of your landscape design and gardening newsletter.

I don't know about you and where you live but I think I'm ready for a little cooler weather. The temp. at the bank today read 113. Whether or not it was right, it felt every bit of it. And ya, we're workin' out in it.

Last issue we looked at creating contrast in landscaping and landscape design. I received so many good reports on that article that I decided to elaborate on another principle that goes hand in hand with contrast. Repetition.

I realize that these are the basic principles but they're also the simple, overlooked things that really make the design come to life.

I hope you find this issue useful.




If I had to name the biggest problem I see with homeowner landscaping plans, it would be a lack of balance.

Shape is unique to each design so you'll rarely see a problem with that. However, balance is critical and often overlooked. This is the stuff that really makes the design come to life.

Most of the questions that I receive about landscape design deal mostly with shape. Of course the shape of your design is important and generally where you start. However, any shape or form can be packed with elements and still be either dull, void, loud, or cluttered.

Landscape design is an art form and so it deals with "all" the same principles that other art foms use. And while different purposes may apply to different ares such as front yard designs or backyard landscaping, the principles remain the same.

While there are hundreds of principles that people have come up with to fit specific applications, there are only five major principles of landscape design. All five of these elements are shared with all forms of art.

Let's look at repetition. It's one of those principles that when it's left out, we may not know what's missing, but we know that something is. It's a simple principle that can tie a seemingly unfinished design together.

Artists use repetition of color and objects to create balance, unity, and harmony in their paintings.

Architects use repetition in design by making doors, windows, fixtures, trims, etc. the same sizes, shapes, and types.

Imagine how it would feel if every door, door frame, window, and fixture in your home were of different sizes, shapes, colors, and types. It would be uncomfortable and chaotic.

So in order to create balance, appeal, and even comfort in our landscapes, we need to create some form of consistent repetition.

It's easiest and most often created in the softscape (plants, ornaments, lawn, decor, etc.). However, it should be considered in the hardscape (walkways and paths, driveways, necessities, fences, walls, raised beds, boundaries, etc.) of your drawn design plan.


You need a design plan or at the very least a good sketch of your entire area before you ever break ground. In this way all things can be considered and thought through and you won't end up with a "patchwork" landscape design that doesn't work.

If you need help getting a plan together, you might find the landscape planning page helpful.
Planning Your Landscape

O.K., so this is simple. You repeat alike elements throughout the garden or landscape to create, balance, unity, and harmony. Yes, it's that simple. However, there are some variables that apply to keep us from creating "clutter".

I'll use an example.

Let's say I have nine Rose bushes. Three red, three pink, and three yellow. And I want to use them to create unity in the garden.

If I make three displays of the same color, I may have created three nice displays of my rose collection but I have not created unity through repetition.

If I make three displays throughout the garden using one of each color in each display, then I have created an appealing balance through repetition of the same group.

Can you see the reasoning in this? In the first example we did use alike elements (three groups of Roses). However, color differences make them separate and they may as well be all different types of flowers as well.

Using Plants:
Here's a tip for those who are not masters of plants.

You can create more appeal and impact by picking 3 to 5 plant types or color combinations and repeating them throughout the garden than you can by using a mix-match of ten, twenty, or a hundred or so different plants.

Use this approach when designing and starting. Keep it simple. You can add more later.

The same would apply for using groups of accent boulders, for example. If you have a collection of boulders of different size, shape, and colors and you randomly place them through the landscape, you can easily end up with a cluttered, ununified look.

Of course, the best display would be to use a single type of accent. However, if you had a mix-match that you wanted to use, then exact matching groups would create more intentional appeal and interest.

Don't discount your hardscape as a way to create repetition. If you have one garden path made of natural fieldstone and one of concrete, it wouldn't be as appealing as having all fieldstone or all concrete.

A cinderblock wall and a stone garden wall combination wouldn't be as consistent as two or three of the same.

These are just a few examples. So don't limit your imagination. You can also create repetition using textures, decor, contrasts, shape, height, width, color, plants, color combinations, hard elements, and soft elements.